“Chilling effect” on speech is the most common metaphor in First Amendment law. The government may not punish people for expressing unpopular views, nor may it create a climate of fear (i.e., a chill) that induces citizens to censor themselves to stay out of trouble. Not surprisingly, chill is notoriously difficult to quantify. Courts have spilled many gallons of ink explaining why one government action would cause someone to remain silent, thus violating the First Amendment, whereas another doesn’t cross the line.
As regular Torch readers know, one of FIRE’s ongoing Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project lawsuits challenges the constitutionality of Chicago State University’s efforts to shut down a faculty blog, CSU Faculty Voice, that harshly criticizes the CSU administration. After the court denied CSU’s motion to throw the case out of court, the plaintiffs—Professors Philip Beverly and Robert Bionaz—asked the court to order CSU to suspend the policies that they are challenging while the lawsuit is pending. (For those who speak legalese, the plaintiffs filed for a preliminary injunction.)» Read More
Increasingly on college and university campuses nationwide, students are objecting to invitations to visiting speakers with whom they disagree and demanding that the speakers be disinvited. This especially occurs in the spring, with colleges’ commencement speakers often coming under heavy criticism, leading FIRE to dub the phenomenon “disinvitation season.”
On April 15, the William F. Buckley, Jr. Program at Yale University hosted its First Annual Disinvitation Dinner in order to recognize those who have been the target of disinvitation attempts. Columnist George Will—who has been the subject of both successful and unsuccessful demands for disinvitations—gave the keynote speech at the event, rejecting the idea that people are too fragile to handle freedom of expression and citing the preposterous results of overly broad restrictions on speech.» Read More
Category: The Torch
Today, North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple signed SB 2150 into law, providing students enrolled in the state’s public colleges and universities the right to be represented at their expense in non-academic suspension and expulsion hearings. FIRE worked with a bipartisan group of state legislators to enact the protection into law.» Read More
Category: Press Releases
When students are accused of breaking the law while engaging in nonviolent off-campus expressive conduct, but not yet convicted, should colleges initiate disciplinary proceedings against them? FIRE doesn’t think so, but evidently that’s what students at the University of Georgia (UGA) can expect.» Read More
Last night, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression announced the recipients of the 2015 “Jefferson Muzzle” awards, bestowed upon the worst government censors and punishers of protected speech in the past year. The TJ Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization in Charlottesville, Virginia, dedicated to protecting free speech. I worked for the TJ Center before coming to FIRE, and I saw firsthand how tough the competition for the Muzzle awards is each year—there are a depressingly large number of qualified nominees.
Just like last year, a few of the 2015 “winners” will sound familiar to Torch readers.» Read More
Category: The Torch
Schools: Bergen Community College
Asnuntuck Community College
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Cases: Bergen Community College: Professor Sanctioned for Photo of Daughter in ‘Game of Thrones’ Shirt Asnuntuck Community College: Student Recording Conversation with Governor Suspended, Deprived of Fair Hearing
George Mason University has eliminated all of its speech codes, earning the highest, “green light” rating from FIRE.» Read More
As anyone who won their office March Madness pool will tell you, successfully predicting future events can be fun sometimes. Other times, less so—like when your favorite free speech watchdog organization correctly forecasts a disappointing development for campus discourse.
Unfortunately, we’re stuck with the latter today.
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Every so often, a cultural touchstone descends on college campuses, with the effect of putting campus discourse under the microscope for all to see. The results, frequently, are discouraging. Clint Eastwood’s blockbuster film American Sniper, adapted from deceased Navy sniper Chris Kyle’s memoir, is the latest exhibit.» Read More
Adjunct faculty members attempting to unionize at a community college outside of St. Louis are now free to gather signatures for a petition asking the college’s administration to remain neutral in their unionization effort. A St. Charles Community College administrator had initially denied faculty members their right to gather signatures before reversing course earlier this month.» Read More
Exactly one year ago today, Virginia’s highest court issued an important ruling balancing government transparency with academic freedom for public university faculty. And last month, an Arizona state court did the same.» Read More
Category: The Torch
Schools: University of Arizona
University of Virginia
Cases: Virginia: Attorney General Investigates Professor’s Research